The South by Southwest festival in Austin is in full swing. On top of the independent music and film showcases the festival is known for, many new devices are being revealed in the festival’s tech sector. Among these are Samsung’s Entrim 4D headphones, which the tech giant pitches as a solution to VR’s motion sickness problems.
Many of the cues our brains use to determine what direction we are facing come from our inner ear. Processing how sound waves bounce off of walls and other surfaces gives us a form of echolocation, while fluid in our inner ears help us balance. This is why we feel dizzy after spinning for a long time. The fluid in our ears continue to move.
The Entrim 4D headphones will utilize a technology called Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation, or GVS, to trick your inner ear. GVS uses small electrodes to send painless electrical signals to your inner ear, manipulating the part that maintains balance.
“I felt a mysterious, irresistible urge to start walking to the right whenever the researcher turned the switch to the right,” a test subject for GVS reported in a study for the Journal of Applied Psychology, “I was convinced — mistakenly — that this was the only way to maintain my balance.”
Samsung is hoping this technology will eliminate what many call simulator sickness, or motion sickness. Feeling the shifts in direction will help propel the experience out of the uncanny valley and make it feel real, eliminating the need for 4D motion chairs.
Combined with Rink, the experimental motion and tracked hand controllers, it’s clear Samsung’s R&D teams aren’t stopping with the Gear VR. The Entrim 4D is still in development and might not be released, but Samsung says it has “conducted experiments on more than 1,500 people and developed 30 different movement patterns.” If it works as well as promised, the potential for it to become the standard for comfortable VR, without the threat of motion sickness, is huge.
— Article contributed by Dylan Eller.